Now more than ever, the world needs female mentors. Studies have shown that for women in STEM fields especially, the sooner they are mentored by other women during their academic career, the less likely they are to drop out of the program. When it comes to mentorship, experience is key and age is just a number.
However, millennials interested in mentoring others — their own age or otherwise — might find breaking into the process to be a bit intimidating. Anyone who focuses on whether or not they have enough experience to do it might wind up trapped in the folds of imposter syndrome. How can female millennials mentor others and come away from it feeling confident and empowered? For anyone ready to get their feet wet in mentorship or as a career coach, here are a few tips to get started.
Go back to your beginnings
Did you have a mentor when you first started out? You were probably grateful to have someone else in the same field to discuss issues with and may even consider them to be a big influence in your current career. If you didn’t have a mentor, you probably don’t want to go down that part of memory lane since it was likely full of anxiety and jitters.
Regardless of whether you had a mentor or not, think about everything you wanted to learn in your first real job. The Harvard Business Review notes that the top five things millennials want to learn include technical skills in their area of expertise, self-management and personal productivity, leadership, industry knowledge and creative strategies. If you consider yourself an expert in any of those areas, then you’ve got a solid foundation in place for becoming a mentor.
Mentorship actually improves engagement
Studies from Deloitte have shown that 68 percent of millennials that stay with an employer for more than five years have a mentor, whereas 32 percent that stay for more than five years do not. Those with mentors were also revealed to be happier and more engaged. In that same study, 85 percent of executives consider engagement to be the most important aspect for business.
When female millennials are able to mentor those newly heading into the workforce, they can leave behind an active imprint in the mentee’s life. Get to know your mentee and build a reciprocal relationship together by asking questions. What are his or her long-term goals? What are they learning now that excites them? What major project did he or she complete that they want to brag about? Check in on a regular basis to see how their career journey is progressing and if they need any help keeping the momentum going, too.
Become a reverse mentor
According to Microsoft, by the year 2020, millennials will represent half of the global workforce. As such, many generations are already adjusting to working alongside the new hive of minds which have a reputation for being tech savvy and big fans of feedback.
What better way to make this mutually beneficial for everyone than with reverse mentoring? This type of mentorship pairs a younger colleague with an older one to provide guidance. Here we have a mutually beneficial relationship where both parties can learn a lot from one another. Older executives can offer insights to millennials on how leadership at the top of the organization is run, while millennials can share what the next generation is like, what they value and how to communicate with them.
At the end of the day, the best kind of mentoring is a two-way street. Both the mentor and mentee should be able to enjoy some personal development that allows them to grow within the mentorship as much as the overall business they work at does. Use the experience you have to build a bridge to the mentee and create a balanced relationship together and it will last you a lifetime.